I'm sickened, disgusted, outraged and infuriated to read of the latest child sex abuse crisis involving clergy of the Catholic Church.
Every Chilean bishop offered to resign Friday over a sex abuse and cover-up scandal, in the biggest shakeup ever in the Catholic Church's long-running abuse saga.
. . .
It marked the first known time in history that an entire national bishops conference had offered to resign en masse over scandal, and laid bare the devastation that the abuse crisis has caused the Catholic Church in Chile and beyond.
Calls had mounted for the resignations after details emerged of the contents of a 2,300-page Vatican report into the Chilean scandal leaked early Friday. Francis had accused the bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring investigators to minimize abuse accusations and showing "grave negligence" in protecting children from pedophile priests.
In one of the most damning documents from the Vatican on the issue, Francis said the entire Chilean church hierarchy was collectively responsible for "grave defects" in handling cases and the resulting loss of credibility that the Catholic Church has suffered.
. . .
... there was "grave negligence" in protecting children from pedophiles by bishops and religious superiors — a reference to the many cases of sexual abuse that have arisen in recent years within Chilean religious orders, including the Salesians, Franciscans and the Marist Brothers community.
Some of these religious order priests and brothers were expelled from their congregations because of immoral conduct, but had their cases "minimized of the absolute gravity of their criminal acts, attributing to them mere weakness or moral lapses," Francis wrote.
But those same people "were then welcomed into other dioceses, in an obviously imprudent way, and given diocesan or parish jobs that gave them daily contact with minors," he said.
Such behavior has been the hallmark of the clerical sex abuse crisis worldwide, with bishops and religious superiors shuttling abusers from parish to parish or dioceses rather than reporting them to police or launching canonical investigations and removing them from ministry.
There's more at the link.
I detailed my actions in response to this crisis in a four part series of articles on this blog, several years ago. What I said then remains true today, I think also for the church in Chile.
Let me be absolutely blunt about this. The Catholic Church, as an institution, and its bishops acting as a collective, have lied, are lying, and will continue to lie to the people of God about this problem. They have no interest whatsoever in resolving it - only in protecting their own power, and the institution of the Church as a whole, and its power and prestige in society. They do not care about the individuals involved, or the victims . . . or the good clergy who have been tainted with the stench of this scandal.
How can I say that? It's very simple. Actions speak louder than words - and lack of action is, in itself, an action. The Church, in the United States, in Chile, in the Vatican, and elsewhere, has taken little or no effective, meaningful action against those who were ultimately responsible for this scandal - namely, its bishops and administrators, who routinely concealed the extent of the problem, shuffled offenders around among themselves, and allowed them to continue to offend, rather than deal with the matter. Even after the scandal blew up, many leaders of the Church continued to try to defend their offices and the institution of the Church, rather than admit that the situation was absolutely indefensible. Many of the worst offenders were whisked off to Rome and given sheltered employment there, safe from extradition or any legal consequences of their neglect. Many are still there.
The Church has also failed to act against the breeding-grounds for so many of these problems - its seminaries. Rather than deal with that problem themselves, the US bishops cravenly abdicated their responsibilities to a Vatican commission, and little or no effective action has resulted from its report. Many seminaries still tolerate, if not actively encourage, instruction that is at variance with (sometimes diametrically opposed to) Church teaching. Modern theological experiments are emphasized over classical, and the traditional philosophical and spiritual underpinning of the priesthood appears to be conspicuous by its absence in the curriculum. What there is of it is frequently corrupted to the point that it would be better not to offer it at all. (For a valuable, albeit one-sided discussion of these issues, see here.) Precisely the same problems appear to have affected seminaries in Chile.
By its lack of meaningful action, the Church has (in my opinion) condemned itself, and its current generation of leaders, to the most ghastly consequences, temporal and spiritual. Millions of Catholics - perhaps tens of millions - have left the faith. I know I'm not the only priest who resigned in disgust and outrage over what was clearly no more than pious window-dressing to deal with the problem, instead of seeking real, meaningful solutions. That has not changed, and it will probably never change under the present system of Church government.
The very fact that these scandals persist, all over the world, is the clearest possible sign that the Church does not care. It has done nothing to truly deal with the problem. It appears to be institutionally incapable of doing so. Even the Chilean situation was obfuscated, glossed over, denied and dismissed, until the evidence became so damning that it had to be confronted. My thanks, congratulations and condolences to those who worked so hard (and some of whom probably wrecked their careers in the Church) to ensure that the truth finally came out in that country.
May God have mercy upon his Church, and upon all those of her people who have tried to be faithful in the face of such criminal, ungodly indifference by those who were supposed to "tend the flock of God that is their charge". Instead, they have proved to be worthy successors, not of the Apostles, but of another class of leader. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity."
I . . . I'm just too sickened by this to find the appropriate words. I would even use profanity, if I could, but I don't know any swear words or phrases strong enough.
May God have mercy on all of us for our sins . . . and upon his Church, which appears to have abandoned (at least among its leadership) the truth and Godliness he wished for her.